How Many Lufthansa First Class Seats Did We Book?

On Thursday I shared the news that Lufthansa seemed to be releasing first class award space on their new Toronto to Munich route to partner airlines for virtually every single day in both business and first class. Every day that offered space had at least eight business class and four first class award seats.

As anyone familiar with Lufthansa’s award policies knows, they don’t ordinarily release first class award seats to partner airlines more than 15 days out.

Of course the timing of this couldn’t have been much better, since just last week United announced a huge devaluation to their award chart, in particular for travel on partner airlines. So to many this represented the last chance at an amazing redemption.

Lufthansa actually just announced the new Toronto to Munich route a few days ago, so the flight literally just opened for bookings. I did some quick research as to how many first class seats were sold on the flights prior to posting about the opportunity to redeem miles on the route, and the results are pretty interesting.

Lufthansa first class always has eight seats, so all I had to do was look at the “load” for each day in ExpertFlyer:

  • If a flight was “F8” that meant all eight first class seats were for sale.
  • If a flight was “F6” that meant six first class seats were for sale, and that two had been sold.

I quickly looked at space between June 5 and October 10, 2014 both Toronto > Munich, and Munich > Toronto. That’s a little bit over four months, a total of 127 days if I’m not mistaken.

Bear with my math, because this is where the fun starts.

Of those dates, there were a total of three first class seats taken from Toronto to Munich, and a total of four first class seats taken from Munich to Toronto.

  • Lufthansa has eight first class seats per flight, which means there are 16 first class seats per day (eight between Munich and Toronto and eight between Toronto and Munich).
  • Multiply that by 127 and you have 2,032 seats total available seats between the time the route launched and the end of the schedule.

So, how many of those 2,032 seats were taken when I once again reviewed flight loads last night?

1,086 seats


~53% of the entire first class capacity

Even subtracting the seven previously booked seats doesn’t change the percentage significantly, and that bears repeating:

53% of Lufthansa’s first class capacity between Toronto and Munich has been booked using United MileagePlus miles in 30 hours.

And that doesn’t even account for the business class seats that were also booked.

Let’s assume the average passenger spent 67,500 MileagePlus miles per direction (as that’s the minimum number of miles you can redeem for first class between the US and Europe through MileagePlus).

If that’s accurate, then the bookings made in the past day represent approximately 73,000,000 (yes, million) redeemed miles.

I’d say Lufthansa must be quite pleased with the premium cabin demand on this new route. 😉

Well done, team!

Filed Under: Lufthansa
  1. I didn’t book any, because these routes are useless to me, but kudos to everyone who did. I hope you break United financially. I know that won’t happen, but at least it could serve as concrete proof that many people are cashing in their miles and leaving. 🙂

  2. United claiming that the devaluation was partially due to partner cost … Take that, United! Have fun everyone!

  3. And now you know the role that bloggers played in the devaluation of the currency. Gary’s argument that this community (and bloggers’ impact) is a tiny fraction of the United Award program is just reildiculous.

  4. Lufthansa should have some fun with this and hand out FlyerTalk luggage tags to everyone in first class! 🙂

  5. That’s awesome! Although…if there were only 4 seats available per cabin, how could we have booked 53%, that’d be at a rate of more than 4 seats per cabin. Was there even more available than that? (I booked 6 overall, a max of 4 on one flight, FWIW, haha)

  6. @Joe

    I think some flights had 6 seats available. On my MUC-YYZ flight 6 seats are already taken… I doubt any of them were purchased for cash… I bet all were awards.

  7. Is there a flyer talk thread yet for folks on the flights? Might be fun to meet who else booked a flight with you.

  8. I wanted to book the first class seats but I already cashed in U.S. Airways 120k on biz class. LAX- LIS, LIS- DPS, DPS -LAX in August 2014.

    When I checked this morning, there are NO more first class LH seats available for YYZ -MUC. Am I right?

  9. Lucky, interesting analysis — but how can you conclude all of those first class tickets were redeemed using United Mileageplus miles (versus using other star alliance currencies) given people in other programs may have taken advantage of this deal since LH released so many seats far in advance to its partners? I’ll admit that the majority of the people did use Mileageplus miles but a few may have used Aeroplan/KrisFlyer/etc.

  10. @abc – Although the numbers seem impressive, if you think this and what bloggers and our little community can accomplish has much impact on UA or other airlines as a whole, then you are really kidding yourself.

  11. I’m looking forward to a toast with some of you, along with my new bride, on our honeymoon! I’ll have to do a quick survey of the cabin to scout for FTers. Enjoy the ride, everyone!

  12. It would be pretty easily to see the impact if you look at first class seats taken on other Lufthansa first class routes from North America over the same dates. For that many seats to be booked that far in advance, I would say that the blogs and FlyerTalk had measurable impact but that’s a guess. It would be an interesting but time consuming analysis.

  13. Stick it to the man! 😉 Nevertheless, I agree with @ABC. Those numbers are mind boggling and a proof of the size and impact of this community. Perhaps a simple announcement instead of outright encouragement is more appropriate for this kind of “limited time only” deals. I did not participate…

  14. I held 2 seats on 3 different flights to see if I could make use of them on various trips. All 3 holds were supposed to expire Nov 10 at midnight, but all are now gone from my UA account. Looks like United may have cancelled some that were un-ticketed, but I don’t know when it happened.

    As it turns out, I couldn’t have used them, so no loss, but very shady move by UA.

  15. @ ABC @ ucipass – Keep in mind that United MileagePlus members redeemed something like 4.7 million awards in 2012 (awards, not miles). So while I’m quite proud of what we booked in a short period of time, our ~1,000 awards are indeed a pretty small fraction of the overall program.

  16. @ Joey – Just an educated guess, really. US Airways couldn’t see the space, people were having a hard time getting flights to confirm with Aeroplan (which also levys hefty fuel surcharges on Lufthansa flights). I know a few people booked through LifeMiles, but I think the vast majority were through United.

  17. I hate to be a Debbie Downer…but if it’s really 53% of the F class capacity – I wouldn’t be surprised if LH moves the flights to 2-class birds. Checkmate 🙁

  18. Pretty pleased to have booked a ten-segment trip to Asia, with a free weekend in Paris, including four First Class long-hauls on Lufthansa, Asiana and Thai’s A380. Delighted to milk value while we can. Thanks Ben!

  19. Notice what awards will be devalued the most and what awards the bloggers push the most. It is no coincidence that the partner awards the bloggers push so much are the ones that were devalued most. This is just another example of that.

  20. see you in June, July, and September.

    Thx so much for the tip. I’ve got my M+ balance down to about where I want it with the new award chart.

  21. Lucky, do you think the following routing would be ticketed with United miles at 140K at first class for all segments??


  22. @Lucky —

    You just happened to check all the loads before posting the wide open availability? Wow. You had a hunch these would go fast, I guess 😛

  23. After reading the % I literally couldn’t stop laughing. The FF community is awesome. It’s going to be even more enjoyable sharing this experiences with others, I cant wait! cheers to everyone who was able to grab a seat… Lucky how many of these did you book for yourself? lol

  24. On Aeroplan it only worked on the website if you went C one way and F the other. Otherwise it didn’t allow you to book. Over $2100 in fees for rt.! LM and UA miles were the winners in this round.

  25. Awesome! Nice to see that UA will be paying out some serious cash to LH due to its latest customer slap. Personally this route holds no interest from the west coast, I’d sooner fly Ryanair than stopover anywhere east of ORD on the way to Europe. But I’ve personally burned 300k UA miles last week and it feels great to burn them and burn UA by flying non rev in the f cabin. Good show!

  26. @ Kris — Yes, maybe the reasons that the awards that got devalued the most are the ones that the bloggers are pushing because they’re the best values. 😉

  27. @ William — I didn’t book any, I’ve done plenty Lufthansa first class in my day and I’ve certainly heard the feedback that you guys can’t stomach yet another trip report about it. 😉

  28. Thanks Lucky. If I can snap ANA first class from SFO to NRT or NRT to BKK, I would be able to get 3 rimowa first class amenity kits!!!

  29. @Lucky, I’d read your LH F class trip report any time! Thank you for sharing this great deal with all of us. I didn’t partake in it either (because I didn’t have enough UA miles) but that’s ok. 🙂

  30. Congratulations to those whom got LH F booked on the YYZ-MUC route. A big thanks is due to lucky for posting this info. It is a nice way to show two fingers to a loyalty program that is engaing in massive inflation and devaluation.

  31. Hey Lucky,

    Do you think that there will still be good availability on this route in Nov/dec? I’d like to book later but am not sure on the odds of Lufthansa having availability in first that far out.

  32. @lucky – Huh. I didn’t realize that United made premium cabin redemptions CHEAPER in 2011. That’s gotta be a first!

  33. @ Gary – To be honest I’m shocked this wasn’t pulled on Friday, so I wouldn’t expect space to stay wide-open for another two months. Within 15 days of departure space will probably be decent though, provided you have a bit of flexibility.

  34. Lucky-oh boy, did I love this tip; hope you like this routing:

    I am going to Rome in January. I used 200K Delta miles for my wife and I to book FSD-MSP-JFK-FCO-JFK-MSP stopover MSP-ATL-SAV. (admit, I had to find a way home from MSP when coming home) This is all in business on Alitalia over the pond.

    Now, my new United award for 270K United miles is: SAV-CLT-ORD stopover ORD-YYZ-MUC-PRG have to get back to MUC then MUC-YYZ-ORD. (could not find a low mile flight home, or that would have been legal)

    It is incredibly easy for me to get to Chicago using 9000 BA Avios round trip, so used that to get back and forth……..

    So, I get three first class/biz trips for the price of two……..thanks lucky! (now do a darn skyteam review so I know if Alitalia Biz is good…..)

  35. Kris said: “Notice what awards will be devalued the most and what awards the bloggers push the most. It is no coincidence that the partner awards the bloggers push so much are the ones that were devalued most. This is just another example of that.”

    Maybe that’s because the programs bloggers highlight are the best ones (read: too good to last).

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